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WebOS Tablet due Feb 9 – “Tablets won’t cannibalize laptops” says HP

There are two kinds of people in the world, someone said, the ins and the outs


Published: 27 January, 2011


There are two kinds of people in the world, someone said, the ins and the outs. The outs want to get in and the ins want to keep them out. Despite being the largest computer company, HP is an out when it comes to tablets, what with its Windows 7 and WebOS tablets not even showing up at CES.

HP this week will show its first WebOS-based tablets, which it calls slates, on February 9, the company said in an interview with the CNBC business TV network. It said it would also announce other initiatives and devices.

Todd Bradley, executive VP of HP’s personal systems group, said in the interview, “We are totally focused on the tablet market, totally focused on enabling that with WebOS, which we bought over the summer from Palm. We believe that the tablet is one piece of that ecosystem, one piece of the connected experience that we are going to create. So, we will announce February 9.” He said the company would also announce broadly the future of WebOS and the types of products that it will affect and enable. HP may not have wanted to get lumped in with the 50 or more other tablet announcements at CES.

Bradley said, “WebOS was the strategic reason we acquired Palm over the summer,” he said. “The WebOS is the first truly web-based operating system that is differentiated from anything that is on the market today. It is very feature-rich with products like Synergy that allow you to access multiple accounts simultaneously: your Google account, your Facebook account, your Twitter account and your CNBC Universal account. It is the only true multitasking mobile operating system. We can have twenty different applications working simultaneously. We think about how that enables everything from smartphone to tablets to PCs to other large-screen devices.”

It’s noteworthy that he included PCs, perhaps as a replacement for the still-emerging Chrome as an always-connected OS for cloud computing.

HP previously said it would also use WebOS in a line of network-connected printers. It’s expected also that the WebOS that HP shows will have significant improvements over what it had when HP acquired Palm.

If you’re not dominant in laptops, as Google and Apple were not, you’ll do whatever it takes to enhance tablets so that they cut into the laptop market. You might not be as aggressive if you have a dominant market share in laptops as HP has. Bradley said HP does not believe that tablets will cannibalize the laptop/netbook market. But, HP wouldn’t say so even if the company believed that, would it? He said the company believes in the shift to always-connected devices but that tablets are only one form factor. Desktop and notebook PCs will be used to create content and for productivity applications. Tablets will only complement them, he said.

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